Hon. Dr Sikua was speaking at the first national ‘Teacher Education and Development’ conference that ended in Honiara yesterday.
The Opposition Leader said the ‘Professional Standards for Teachers and School Leaders in Solomon Islands’ now incorporated into the new ‘Teaching Service Handbook’ should be regarded as a springboard for quality education for Solomon Islanders.
“In order to achieve and maintain high standards in the teaching profession, all involved, from the humblest teacher just starting her or his career to the most distinguished curriculum specialist need to agree that standards must be set to ensure uniformity in all school environment nationwide.
“There must be consensus as to essential standards that teachers must achieve consistently inside and outside the classroom if they want to be regarded as professionals and I am glad that a start has been made with the introduction of a teachers’ professional code.”
Hon. Dr Sikua said when standards are set, the government must be prepared to back up teachers in remote locations by providing lighting for their houses and schools and internet access and ensuring they receive their salaries on time, just as their colleagues in urban settings.
“We cannot make overall teaching improvements that benefit all our school children, if the professional standards for teachers are only practiced by teachers in Honiara and the provincial centres. Due consideration must be given to the situation of the students in Nifiloli, Toumoa, Sigana, Sikaiana, Ogo, Dedeu, Fanalei, Makira bay and in every remote village school in the country.
“A whole range of activities need to be done to make sure those introduced standards are maintained sustainably, otherwise we might as well revert to academia. It is vitally urgent for us to create a tsunami of change in education, a renaissance, a paradigm shift.”
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